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Nirvana

I’ve been around plenty of artists who are vibrant, talkative and superb interviees at 10:00am. By 6:00pm, they want to kill both the media outlet, and myself.

Now imagine you’re Nirvana, and Nevermind has just been released. Everyone is calling you the voices of a generation, the saviours of rock and roll, the greatest thing since Elvis. And you don’t want to hear it anymore.

Fecal Matter was a short-lived punk rock band from Aberdeen, Washington. The group was formed in 1985 by Kurt Cobain, the future front man of the grunge band Nirvana, along with Dale Crover of The Melvins and drummer Greg Hokanson. Melvins members Buzz Osborne (also known as “King Buzzo”) and Mike Dillard appeared in a later version of the band during rehearsals the following year.

Songs from group’s sole recording session were issued as the Illiteracy Will Prevail demo tape. With the exception of the song “Spank Thru” the tracks from this session remain unreleased officially. A re-recording of “Downer” was also released on the first Nirvana album, Bleach. Illiteracy Will Prevail is the earliest documentation of Cobain’s songwriting in circulation, and helped Cobain to establish himself as a composer and performer among his peers in the underground rock scene in Washington state.

“I’ve dragged it out for six years. I didn’t wanna do it. I took a piece of the advance six years ago and then I was like ‘bad girl’, and Harpers is not mad at me but it’s time to turn it in so it’s gotta be done by Christmas this year. We’ll have three chapters turned in in about three weeks, childhood chapters but it’s about getting it all right.

So she (the interviewer) asked me the other day, ‘why did you break up Hole?’ And I can’t remember, I really can’t (laughs). So I had Eric from Hole to talk to her because he’ll remember. We were doing really good and we were getting Grammy nominated, doing studio stadiums, and why did I break it? I don’t know why! It really wasn’t drugs? (Dylan Jones: so you’re going to find out why you broke up Hole?) yeah, I’ll find out.

(The book) will be my entire life but with a cutoff… like I’m very sensitive about my love life and my personal life, so I don’t want much of that in it. I mean, the salacious stuff I don’t want in there because I’ve definitely had phases, I’m done with that, so I don’t really want that stuff in there. I have a certain anger that’s reserved for particular lawyers and accountants which I don’t think anyone cares, no one is going to care about that!

I don’t want to a do a poor little rich girl. People cannot relate to certain things and I want to make a really cool book, but that is also transparent and honest. People can relate to ambition, people can relate to stalking Andy Warhol and Lee Daniels, people can relate to certain things but then there are other things that people just can’t relate to. So, we will see. I’m writing it all down, you got me at a really tender moment, I just saw the outline literally yesterday… and my daughter is very private so her life after a certain age is off-limits and stuff like that.”

This is part 52 of an ongoing series where the kind folk of the music business reveal their favourite album of all time.

Ask people in the music industry the seemingly simple and straightforward question, “What is your favourite album of all time?” and you’ll find that it’s not always easy. After all, my industry peers listen to hundreds of albums a month and thousands of songs during that time. Because the question isn’t the best album of all time or the one that’s made them the most money in sales, or the most clicked-on review, but the one release they personally can’t live without, that one title they have two copies of in several formats, in case one breaks. It’s also about that album that for them has the best back stories and the one that has the most meaning in their lives.

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Paul Wilson, Owner/Vice President/General Manager, 105.7 WROX and AM 1450
Elton John, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road
I love the variety of this disc, from the sadness of “Candle In the Wind” to pure energy of “Your Sister Can’t Dance” to the textures of “Funeral for a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding”. Throw in the hits like “Saturday Night’s Alright”, “Bennie and the Jets” and the title track and you’ve got more than an hour of solid entertainment.

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Paul Cantor, blogger
Ghostface, Supreme Clientele
Trying to explain exactly why you love something is hard to do — love isn’t explainable, it just is. And that’s how I feel about Supreme Clientele. On paper, it’s not an album you look at and think: this could be amazing. At the time of its release, Ghostface was merely another spoke on the Wu-Tang wheel, and seven years after the group debuted, that wheel had increasingly fallen off the track. But the record really caught everyone by surprise. The production eschewed what was then en vogue — syncopated, skittering drum tracks topped by melody-deficient synthesizer keystrokes — for soulful, neck-snapping beats; the rhymes fused stream-of-consciousness ramblings with Ghost Deini’s unique blend of street poetry. It was the Wu-Tang formula on the most premium of steroids. But that’s just a description of the album itself. Why it’s my favorite, why I love it — most of all, it’s because I’m from Staten Island, and in the late 90’s, after years of dominance, it felt like my hometown was on a real cold streak in the broader rap climate. Kids in my school, kids in my neighborhood, they’d moved on to Jay-Z, DMX, Noreaga, whatever was on DJ Clue mixtapes at the time. And then Ghostface came with the video for “Mighty Healthy,” and it felt like the streets — at least the streets where I was from — drew from that. The big, chunky “Synthetic Substitution” drum break, the minor-key loop, the chorus-less rhymes. It was a throwback to another era, before the bling and the bullshit. There was no fluff involved; the whole album reflects that ethos. Today, I can put it on and transport right back to the moment I first heard it. It’s a time in my life I rather enjoyed, it inspired a lot of what I’d go on to do in music. For that, Supreme Clientele will always be number one in my book.

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Jeff Long, Morning Host, Max 104.9
U2, Achtung Baby
Waiting for that release was three years in the making & it was a feeling of a kid at Christmas when i finally had it in my hands. From the opening note & distorted vocal sound of Zoo Station to the shimmering fade of Love Is Blindness, there is not a weak moment among the 12 tracks. Singles like One & Mysterious Ways were as good as anything they ever released & tracks like Ultra Violet (Light My Way) signaled a new sonic & lyrical breakthrough for a band already strong in those areas. An album that plays as well today as it did in 1991, Achtung Baby will always have a place in my musical heart & playlist!

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Douglas Wolk, Music Critic
World of Pooh, The Land of Thirst
The sole album by a late-’80s Bay Area guitar-bass-drums band: one of the bleakest things I’ve ever heard, and also one of the sweetest. It goes straight to very uncomfortable emotional places–so much longing, so much loathing–and bits of it are always pinwheeling around the back of my consciousness.

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Conor Bezane, Writer, Producer, Author
Nirvana, In Utero
It pounces. It pummels. It thwacks. In Utero is a jolt of nitro glycerin straight to your heart. Avant-garde. Rock ‘n’ roll. Pure and simple. The album is the unsung hero of Nirvana’s catalog. Kurt Cobain is the wizard of clause — and genius turns of phrase abound on In Utero. “Look on the bright side, suicide. Lost eyesight, I’m on your side,” he wails on “Milk It.” “Angel left wing, right wing broken wing. Lack of iron and/or sleeping… Obituary birthday, my scent is still here in my place of recovery.” When In Utero came out, I was 14 years old. I wanted to emulate Kurt, so I picked up a Fender Stratocaster. My dream of rockstardom was a dream deferred. But I did end up writing about rock. Listening to In Utero is not unlike viewing painter Edvard Munch’s famous work The Scream. You can feel his pain, his melancholy, his suffering, his hurt. The most ugly, beautiful album of all time.

Saturday Night Live has released a clip from a December 1979 episode in which a beautifully made-up David Bowie performed a theatrical version of his song The Man Who Sold the World, the title track of his third album. That’s Klaus Nomi and Joey Arias singing backup for him. Bowie and band were introduced by guest host, the former President of the United States (at least on The West Wing), Martin Sheen.

Fun Fact: In the wake of Nirvana’s cover on their MTV Unplugged in New York performance and release, Bowie, according to The Complete David Bowie book, bemoaned the fact that when he performed the number himself he would encounter “kids that come up afterwards and say, ‘It’s cool you’re doing a Nirvana song.’ And I think, ‘Fuck you, you little tosser!'”

Vinyl LP sales in Canada in 2015 posted the biggest overall sales total in the SoundScan era since 1991, with a sales increase of 30% over 2014. As you can see below, the numbers aren’t huge compared to digital albums, but it’s a great format building lifelong fans.

Title/Artist Vinyl Sales
1 25 / Adele 6,200
2 1989 / Taylor Swift 6,000
3 X / Ed Sheeran 4,800
4 AM / Arctic Monkeys 3,800
5 In The Lonely Hour / Sam Smith 3,700
6 Abbey Road / Beatles 3,300
7 Hozier / Hozier 3,200
8 Dark Side Of The Moon / Pink Floyd 3,200
9 Wilder Mind / Mumford & Sons 3,000
10 Led Zeppelin IV / Led Zeppelin 2,600
11 Legend / Bob Marley & The Wailers 2,400
12 Kind Of Blue / Miles Davis 2,400
13 Nevermind / Nirvana 2,300
14 Ultraviolence / Lana Del Rey 2,200
15 If I Should Go Before You / City And Colour 2,200
16 Dream Your Life Away / Vance Joy 2,100
17 Guardians Of The Galaxy Awesome Mix Vol. 1 / Soundtrack 2,100
18 Honeymoon / Lana Del Rey 2,100
19 Chronicles / Creedence Clearwater Revival 2,000
20 Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band / Beatles 2,000

In a new exclusive interview between Nirvana’s Krist Novoselic and SPIN founder Bob Guccione Jr., the bassist tries to speculate on what Nirvana might’ve sounded like today, discusses the enormous success of Dave Grohl’s Foo Fighters, and opens up about how heartbroken he was when his friend and bandmate, Kurt Cobain, committed suicide in April of 1994.

Dave Grohl has reunited with his past legendary band, who changed music for an entire generation. No, not Nirvana, but The Muppets. Grohl has gone back to The Muppets rock house band The Electric Mayhem for a cover of the 1999 Foo Fighters’ hit “Learn to Fly”.